Convalescence

A (Not So) Secret Love

The next morning finds Kate and Castle in bed together—clothes still on, boundaries unbreached. Well, all except one. Castle smiles happily as he kisses her good morning, and her eyes sparkle back at him. She cuddles up to him as he sighs contentedly, running his thumb lightly over the the crook of her elbow. “Wanna talk?” he asks.

“If you want,” she murmurs. He glances down at her to see that her eyes are closed.

“Do you remember anything from the night?”

“Like what?”

“Umm…the nightmare. Do you want to talk about it?” He keeps his tone soft and gentle, perfectly aware of what he’s asking her to do, what he’s asking her to relive. But he’s not just doing it for his own selfish curiosity—although he’d be lying if he claimed that wasn’t part of it—he honestly believes talking about with him will help her. Why else is he here? Besides the obvious being-in-love-with-her part.

“You died,” she says bluntly. “I died; Mom died. Everyone died. Almost makes me want to be tortured in my dreams just to change it up a little.” He sees right through her attempt to lighten it, sees the pain in her eyes.

“I’m right here, Kate. And so are you. We’re safe.” He wishes he could say the same about her mother, but there’s really nothing adequate.

“I know,” she says softly. “And it helps…to wake up and have you right there. Even if you don’t wake up, it helps to watch you breathe to reassure myself you’re still alive.”

“Wake me more often,” Castle tells her. “I don’t want you to have to go through a single bit of this alone. I want to hold you and comfort you and kiss you when it all becomes too much. No one should have to go through this alone, least of all you.”

“Castle?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry for kicking you.” She says it with such seriousness that he has to laugh. His shins are a little tender, come to think of it.

“You can kick me as much as you want as long as you’re staying in my bed,” he chuckles.

“Always comes back to that,” she teases. “So, listen, is it okay if we just take this slow for a while? Under wraps?”

“You mean I can’t declare my undying love for you with a five-hundred-person flash mob in Times Square and make it a blaring headline on page six?” The look of horror on her face is quickly replaced with exasperation, but it’s priceless nonetheless. “Just kidding.”

She punches him none-too-softly in the arm. “Yes, that’s what it means. Let’s just keep this to ourselves for a little while, okay? Let’s not tell anyone at least until Alexis comes back.”

“Agreed,” Castle smiles at her. A cell phone rings from somewhere in the room.

“I’d say a body dropped, but I don’t get those calls anymore,” Kate grumbles, rolling over onto her side.

“That and it’s my phone,” Castle acknowledges. He settles back on his pillow and answers it. “But it is the precinct! Castle.”

“Hey, it’s Ryan,” the detective on the other side says.

Castle switches it to speaker and lays his phone on the bed between them. “Ryan, what’s up? Haven’t talked to you in a while.”

“Bro, did he really see you?” Esposito breaks in.

“Uh…see me where?” Castle asks, confused.

Ryan’s laughter is written all over his voice. “At the morgue,” he says innocently. Kate sits up in bed so fast she’s gasping. Castle fumbles for the phone. It slips out of his grasp once, sliding halfway across the bed before he manages to snatch it up and hit the speaker button again. He presses it to his ear and rests a hand on Kate’s shoulder to check if she’s okay. Her breathing is labored, but she waves him off.

“At the…at the morgue,” Castle stutters. “I, um, what would we…I mean, I, be doing there?”

“I don’t know why you were there, but I definitely knew what you were doing,” Ryan continues in that same voice.

“When Ryan first told me, I told him to shut it,” Esposito interrupts again. “You and Beckett? How’d you manage that, bro?” Beckett’s shooting him her premium glare, one that clearly says ‘Give me the phone, now.’

Castle shakes his head at her, eyebrows furrowing. “What makes you think we’re together?”

“Really, dude? Don’t try to keep this from us,” Esposito scolds.

Kate lunges at him, fingernails clawing to no avail. Castle holds up one finger in warning, hoping she’ll catch his meaning as he places the phone on the bed again and allows her to hear it too. ‘Don’t speak.’

“Ryan saw you two making out in front of the steps,” Esposito continues. “And he said it was hot.” Kate’s eyes nearly bulge out of her head and she motions frantically at Castle to deny it. Her antics aren’t helping his improvisation.

“Okay, for the record, it was chaste,” Castle says heatedly. Kate rolls her eyes and falls back onto her pillow with a fwump!. “And secondly, why the hell were you spying on us?”

“I wasn’t spying, Castle,” Ryan says. “I was going to the morgue to get some details on the victim for our case. I didn’t expect to find you two there.”

“So, details, bro,” Esposito cuts in again. “You and Beckett. How did that happen?” Kate drags her finger across her throat, giving him a venomous look.

“Sorry guys, I’m not at liberty to discuss it,” Castle replies, trying to sound apologetic. “Beckett wants to keep this under wraps, so don’t go spreading it around, okay?”

“Aww, Ricky and Kate,” Ryan trills. “So cute together.” Kate scrambles for the cell phone again and Castle barely manages to keep out out of her grasp—by knocking it off the bed. He crashes down after it and successfully switches it from speakerphone once more. “Is everything okay? I thought I just heard something fall.”

It takes Castle a moment to get air back into his lungs. “Real mature, Ryan.”

“Yeah, well, at least Beckett didn’t hear me say that,” Ryan says casually. “She would KILL me. But no, immature would have been: ‘Rick and Kate, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I…’” From the vengeful look in Kate’s eye, she can hear just as well what’s being said whether it’s pressed to his ear or not.

“Uh, uh, I gotta go,” Castle stammers, edging away from Kate and towards the bedroom door. His foot catches on the mussed sheets that are hanging off the bed and he lands on the floor. “Not cool, Ryan,” he hisses. Kate steps smartly over him and plucks the phone from his slack hand.

“Hey, Ryan,” she says, all sweet and demure. Too sweet. If he ever heard Kate speaking in that tone to him, he’d be running away as fast as he could go.

“Uh…uh…” Castle can almost imagine Ryan’s mouth opening and closing like a fish. He thinks he can hear the squeaky wheels of Esposito’s chair hastily rolling as far away as he can so he can claim plausible deniability about everything but the first few sentences. Kate clicks the end button and tosses the phone away, tilting her head back with a sigh. Castle slowly picks himself up from the floor as she walks to the edge of the bed and face plants into it.

“What are we gonna do, Castle?” comes her muffled voice.

“I don’t know,” he offers.

She flips onto her back to stare up at the ceiling. He rejoins her on the bed again, though neither moves to regain the covers. “Nice job with the keeping it under wraps, by the way.”

“Hey, you’re the one who kissed me in public,” he replies quickly.

“Oh, are you sorry I kissed you?” she asks. He can tell it’s not a serious question, but he feels inclined to answer it anyway.

“Never.”

“Mmm,” she smiles. “Well, I guess if they know, they know. Nothing we can do about it now. Except leave them hanging, of course.”

“Yes, well done with that,” Castle agrees.

“Just hanging up on them is much more effective than chewing them out,” Kate shrugs. “Besides, what would I say? How dare you look in our direction when we kiss even though you didn’t know we were going to be there anyway?”

“How about, ‘don’t torment my boyfriend’?”

“Oh, so you’re my boyfriend now?”

“Well, if you don’t like that, we could just call me your lover…” he suggests, waggling his eyebrows at her.

She laughs. “We are not calling you that. Why do you feel the need to label everything, Castle?”

“I’m a writer. We use words a lot. And when there isn’t a word to describe what we’re trying to say, we make one up and trust the readers are too lazy to actually look it up in a dictionary.”

That earns another laugh, a sound he could listen to forever. “Well then, Mr. Writer, why don’t you make up a title for yourself?”

“Ooh, yeah, I like that,” Castle says. “I could be your…amorparasiempre!”

She scoffs. “You did not make that up. And no.”

“I did! It’s all one word, amorparasiempre!”

“Try again.”

They are silent for another few minutes. Then: “I’m going to make coffee. This might take a while.”

“I’m going to hit the shower,” Kate replies with a roll of her eyes. “Unless you want to j—”

“Yes,” Castle says before he can stop himself.

“—join me for a walk first?” Kate finishes. She raises an eyebrow at him, a smirk peaking the corners of her mouth slightly.

Castle blinks. Twice. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking,” he covers.

“Mmm-hmm, sure it was,” Kate hums, walking past him out the bedroom door. “Come on, Castle.”


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